Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 troubles with twins

I made this as a part of my annual movie of my kids. Enjoy. Or not.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I need a vacation from this vacation

Vacations are supposed to be times to relax, to chill, to let the stress of the year seep through your pores.
I'm not sure why, then, most vacations are spent on visiting family.
When, you know, you bring the kids.
This vacation was anything but relaxing. The kids have taken whine steroids and are now overdosing on Linda Blair-like behavoir after being shuttled to strange places for the last week. If I escape with any semblance of my sanity, and my hearing, after we get home on Friday it will be a minor miracle, not walking on water, but definitely on par with a three-pointer to tie the title game with no time left.
I came down with a bug or got food poisoning from Taco Tico - not sure which, though I am blaming Taco Tico for now - and suffered the seat blows for several days. The good news is I really didn't eat nearly as much as I planned. The bad news is I didn't run nearly as much either, and when I tried running today, well, it sucked. I felt like I'd never laced up my shoes.
No doubt, this was a fun trip, and there's still a couple more days to go. It's always nice to see the rents, even in separate places, and they all were a big help with the kids. Kate and I got some time to ourselves, though we were, ahem, interrupted today in the morning by the toddler.
But vacations, I think I'm learning, are not designed to relax. They are there to remind you that life at home, though it may seem like a grind, is really pretty good.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday's session from hell

Poker on the Kansas City boats on Saturday night was one of the worst sessions I've ever endured. It was the kind of session that makes you wonder about the future of poker, your style of play and even why you play at all.
The first hour, at the Ameristar, started out great, despite the fact that the best player at the table was directly on my left. I flopped two sets and bet them aggressively, and I was $100 up when I listened a little too much about how Harrah's was taking over the poker scene and decided to give it a shot. The players at my table were all tight, solid slingers, and I wanted easy money.
Just my luck, then, that at Harrah's, I was seated at a screw-tight table, where I didn't get paid for a flush, most of my rare pre-flop raises gathered the blinds and nothing else and no one else was doing any better. I doubt the dealer made more than a few bucks in tips during their half-hour shifts.
When a few young, cocky but cool kids (you know the type, if you don't, you haven't sat at a poker table for very long) sat down, it helped loosen things up, but by then I had endured a series of coolers that left me a little beaten down.
I flopped trips with A-10, only to lose to A-J. My pair of Aces with A-Q got bumped by a straight with crap cards on the turn. TPgreatK, with a J on the board, gave another guy two pair. I had A-Q three times and A-K twice and not once did it hit, and neither did my straight and flush draw with J-10 sooted (15 outs twice my ass). I dumped A-K once when a guy re-raised and showed me K-K. I was through flopping sets despite seeing at least 20 small pocket pairs and calling some raises with them.
I finally lost the rest, not much, when I flopped top two pair and lost to a flopped flush when the guy played 8-3 of hearts.
I bought in for another $200 and raised with A-J and got two pair on the flop, with A-J-5. The youngest, cockiest guy looked very interested, so I checked and let him bet it for me. He obliged. There were no flush draws out there, so I just called. I did the same on the turn, only when he bet $30, I raised to $80. He instantly pushed and instantly called. I knew I was ahead. Sure enough, he showed A-5, I flipped over A-J, and I didn't notice he was on a spade draw until the last one fell and the dealer pushed the pot his way. Runner, runner flush.
I wasn't pissed at him. He had a hand. But I was a bit whiny inside at that point. Really? I managed to escape all those other beats with the minimum lost. I had endured a shitload of coolers, and I played the last hand well, trapping him despite my extremely tight image. It was my chance to be rewarded for my patient, observant, egoless play.
Poker, at times, is a very cruel game.
I considered my options after I lost my stack again. I finally decided to buy in again, looking at the session as an opportunity to build my mental strength, the way the last three miles of a 15-mile run prepares me for a half marathon. I was determined not to tilt.
I managed to do just that, mainly because you can't really play 10-5 (well, I can't, anyway) and 8-4, and I slunk away at midnight. not really sure what to think.
My tight style was the same style that I saw in Vegas, and the same style I'm seeing now, even at the 1-2 NL tables. I'm wondering if that's all we might see for a long time, with the economy the way it is. You're just aren't going to see people who don't mind blowing $200 for entertainment because they saw poker on TV.
And I can't battle the aggressive style exhibited by those cocky young kids without cards, and those only come so often (or not at all), and even when you do outplay them when you (finally) get a hand, your hand won't always hold up.
It makes me wonder if I'm going to have to change the way I play.
But I'm not worried about that now. I don't know if I ever will. Poker is a recreational hobby for me. it's a profitable one, to be sure. I made more money this year than even two years ago, when the tables were much easier to beat, both live and online.
But it is a hobby, and with my never-ending duties as a parent, and my responsibility to myself to run and climb mountains, I can't take the time to truly study the game to put me at an elite level and dominate tables without cards.
That's OK. Sessions like Saturday's don't come very often. Or if they do, I might have to take up video games again.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An avatar I wish I had



Can you name the video game this is from? You probably can if you were any kind of a gamer.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review of Pokersoftware.com

There are probably 786,639 Web sites that analyze poker Web sites in the hopes that you'll click on one and give them a piece of the referral pie, but there's one big reason why I liked PokerSoftware.com.
It analyzes the tools you use to play poker, not just the sites you play on.
There's plenty of that, too, if that's what you're actually looking for. You can find reviews of many of the top poker Web sites in the world. One thing I liked about that is the rating is a "community rating," not just one hack's thoughts, so you'll get a truer picture of what all poker players think about the site.
But the soft goes way beyond that. There are ratings of poker tracking software, some with reviews of programs I've never even heard of. I actually learned a lot from reviewing this site, and I can honestly say that doesn't happen very often when I'm asked to write a post about a new poker site. Again, these are listed by community ratings, so you'll get a truer picture of what the users are saying about it.
The site lists the tracking software by an initial description, then bullets some of the highlights of the program, and finally gives a more detailed review below. And those reviews appear to be honest as well, as some of the community reviews were pretty harsh and probably won't be included on anyone's marketing report for that company.
You'll also find video reviews of products and Web sites, and that's also another feature I've never seen on any other site.
But there are reviews and product descriptions of table selection software and tools, odds calculators, buddy lists and SnG tools. You can even find some descriptions of bankroll managers and lots of other software that I've honestly never heard of for poker tournaments and tools to make you a better player.
The reviews aren't as detailed as they could be, but the sheer volume of information on the site means you'll learn a lot even after you've spent hours looking at all the descriptions.
If I'm ever in the market to improve my game, and lord knows I need that, I'm going to head back to PokerSoftware.com. I've got a lot to learn, apparently, and the site will help me find the tools I need. I'm glad I was asked to write a review of this site, as I actually got a lot more than a little extra green to blow at the tables.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And to all, a good night (maybe)

Before a car trip to California to see our grandparents, Mom used to take us to Toys 'R' Us and instructed us to pick out something that would keep us busy in the car for 12 hours a day for two days.
Our choices were, shall we say, limited.
They were, as far as I can remember:
1. An Etch-A-Sketch
2. A Mad Libs book.
3. Another riddle book where you'd run a magic highlighter over the phrase and it would give you the answer, presumably after you'd give it the kind of thought you'd give the million-dollar question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with your only lifeline being a phone call to that dorky girl in high school who always had carmel corn in her braces but would let you copy her chemistry homework.
4. A game where you'd push a button that would make a colored piece of plastic floating in water land in a basket.
5. Dozens of books like "Charlotte's Web," "The Great Brain" or one of Stephen King's early offerings (I read him at a pretty young age, which explains a few things).
Or there was the alphabet game, the license plate game or 20 questions.
Eventually, the games deteroriated into "Will you stop touching me", "Stay on your side" and "Punch the brother in the arm."
Good times.
Today, on our car trip across Colorado to Kansas and home, where I'll spend my next week or so playing a bit of poker (report to come later), spending time with Mom and Dad (in separate houses, alas), seeing old friends, enjoying a night or two out away from the kids with Kate and wolfing down as much barbecue as I possibly can, we had more entertainment in the car than I had in the house when I was their age.
We have a built-in DVD that plays a constant stream of "The Backyardigins." They do not have a Game Boy but probably will soon. I had my laptop, which played Season 4 of 'The Wire.' (And this show really is fantastic, if you haven't seen it you must right now. Seriously, stop wrapping last-minute presents and watch it. Your family will understand).
In the end, it wasn't enough, and the twins went into nuclear meltdown in the last half hour. They're still only 19 months, and Pablo and a Moose who only wears a sweater but no pants can only take you so far. Even Jayden seemed to wear down after the 7th hour, asking Kate, "Mom, can you go faster?"
On a side note, don't you wonder what Mary and Joseph did with baby Jesus on those long trips on the donkey? Or did Jesus just wave his hand and they were there? Did you ever wonder what Jesus was like as a baby? Was he fussy? You would think the son of God would be a good baby. Or maybe God was testing Mary, like he did Job, and made Jesus get up at all hours all the time.
Anyway, I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of my kids. I wish we had that entertainment. Those hours just seemed to drag on.
Then again, I don't think I'm as jealous as my parents, who admit that they wished like hell they had something to shut us up.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two bits gets you three holy tosses

"Chuck-A-Jesus"

That's how my toddler pronounced Chuck-E-Cheese at his first-ever visit today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kansas City Here I Come

I used to look at Christmas as Rankin-Bass specials, lights on people's home and the latest cartridge for my Atari 2600.
I still enjoy the specials, though I think I might be the last generation to do so. And I like the lights, too, though I don't put them on my house, not yet, not until the kids don't require 24-hour surveillance. But Christmas means a lot more now.
It's a chance to get away, get some help with the kids and, most of all, go home.
Vegas was a wonderful getaway, a desperately needed getaway, but even tonight, I found myself having a tough time with the kids around 6:30 p.m. tonight, just before their bedtime. I need a long, extended break. Grandparents are wonderful for their extra set of hands and the chance to get out of the house, and I need that. Kate and I both need that.
It's a chance to run at sea level, too, and eat great food (and that French restaurant sounded awesome, but I don't think there's anything better than a plate full of Kansas City barbecue).
We leave on Christmas Eve.
The anticipation grows. There are some memories to be had, sleep to be won and some space to be enjoyed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunset to Sunrise

I, like many, approach a trip to Las Vegas as an opportunity.
I use it to practice being someone else.
There's a reason for the slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." Quite frankly, there aren't many things you can take away from a Vegas vacation and have it be a positive influence on your life.
Then again, most don't attend a get-together with bloggers.
There were two questions people asked me when I told them I was going to spend four days in Vegas. They're pretty standard. What will you be doing, and who are you going with? The first was easy. I don't know, but I'm sure I'll play poker. This year I also told them I was going to see Steel Panther. You'll hear about them a bit later.
The second is a little tougher, so I just told them they were other bloggers. That's a no-no in Vegas, but outside in the normal world I think it's OK. Pauly may disagree.
I stayed up late - or early, depending on your definition, as one day sunset crept into sunrise and I went to bed as the sky turned pink and Mandalay Bay glittered in the first light. Usually I'm getting up to face a girl (or two) bouncing like popcorn in her crib and a toddler who wants to wear his Wall-E underwear today.
I ate poorly.
I ignored my running after Friday, when I snuck in a cool jaunt with KuroKitty/Pokercat Friday morning.
I drank quite a bit more.
I didn't worry when I slept little.
Mostly, though, I let myself go.
I didn't worry about what angle someone might be working on me.
I didn't care what anyone thought of me.
I didn't fret about melting into a group of people I've only met one other time in person, and I allowed myself the space to fit comfortably inside.
I chilled the fuck out.
Many of these trip reports contain blow-by-blow accounts of their weekend. Those are fun to read because of the fractured nature of the gatherings. People you know splinter and find one of the millions of possible adventures these get-togethers offer, only to come back to together and share it with us.
But that's not what you'll find here. That's not who I am. Sometimes my adventures are on display, as my half marathons and trips up Colorado's highest peaks, when I believe others will benefit from that. Other times my journey is my own, shared with a select few, and that's enough.
The memories have already been thrown in the crock pot and are simmering. I'll pull them out when I need a smile, like when a two-outer hits, when a run hurts or when one of the kids is throwing an especially impressive fit.
Thursday night at the Geisha Bar with some of the people whose talents I respect about as much as anyone's, meals and poker with some of my favorite invisible Internet compatriots, my skilled (lucky) run to 6th place in the blogger tournament (when I cashed all my suckout chips for the year by hitting two-outers three times, including two times when I hit quads on the river) NFL Sunday, and, of course, Steel Panther with Blood and Dr. Chako and The Wife and Stb and Otis' brother, will stay in storage with me for a long time. If you have any space in your heart for hair metal at all -and Def Leppard sold 10 million copies of two albums so I know you do, even if you don't want to admit it - you have to see this band at the Green Valley Ranch. As a bonus, you can play poker at easily some of the most profitable tables I've ever enjoyed after the show.
Those memories are nice, but that's not all I want to take away from this trip.
As I've said before, I am a loner in many ways. I am a private person who is generally uncomfortable around people. I rarely trust anyone. I rarely let them beyond my barriers. I see little value in small talk. I prefer to take time getting things accomplished rather than spend it "chatting" with someone.
Resolutions are about improving yourself, and rarely do we stick with them. Some do stick though. I'm a runner now. A close friend finally kicked cigarettes last year. But, like anyone, I need to improve myself.
So now I have two New Year's Resolutions.
The first is to be more patient with my kids. They're my little ones, and they're supposed to try my patience every day. If they don't, they're not exploring or asserting themselves, and they will need both those traits all through their lives. I don't want to squelch them. I want them to thrive. I will try to let them thrive more often, even if it costs me another gray hair that day.
The second is the golden nugget I will take from this trip. I will try to let more people in.
I will talk to strangers. I will call my sources far more than I do. I will try to be more of a family member when we're at Kate's parents.
I will enjoy people's company.
This is easy to say now. I'm coming off a high I get few times in my life. When I can now say that I'm not going to say bloggers, I'm going to see friends, and not just a few.
I know I will not completely change because I don't want to completely change. I love the fact that I can spend hours by myself without the need to text or yahoo or IM or call someone on the phone. I did spend some time in my room during this trip, and it was wonderful.
I know I will also relapse. That's part of the process. I'll shutter people away. But rather than just accept it because "that's just who I am," I will fight against that, for maybe the first time in my life.
Because when I fight that urge, and I let myself be free among friends, good things happen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Conflict

I missed my first flight to Vegas.
This will shock friends of mine who see me, correctly, as an anal planner.
It doesn't shock me as much as I thought.
I'm still conflicted about leaving my wife and three little ones for four days of mindless fun. Part of me really, really wants to go, was dying to go, but the other part will miss everyone dearly.
Still, I've been raising my voice a bit too much with them lately. The grind has hit bone. As much as I love them, it has.
It will cost me an hour of Vegas to miss a flight. I consider that penance.
I'm already missing everyone.
Maybe that's the point.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Goals for Vegas

I do have some goals cause that's just how I roll, God forbid anything just flows in my world. These can, of course, change at a moment's notice.

1. Get in Thursday at 11 a.m., head straight to the MGM and play 1-2 NL all day, possibly with Blood and StB.
2. Thursday night, Geisha Bar at the IP to meet Joanada, welcome Kat late, drink, hang out, listen to CK do her funny Asian accent. Try to get to bed before 4 a.m. Possibly fail.
3. Friday morning/late morning run with PokerKat. I ran 8 miles today and my body is really feeling the punishment (see below) I'm putting on myself for Vegas. Despite this, one Friday run with PokerKat can't hurt. If anyone else wants to join us, please comment. We'd love to have IG or anyone else along.
4. Friday afternoon, greet Jordan, play poker I hope at a place I have not played before. That includes Caesars, Bellagio (probably out of my league), Palms, Rio, Hard Rock.
5. Friday night, MGM Mixed games, then Steel Panther with Blood and StB. Woot!
6. Can I has some PaiGow with Drizz for a bit late that night? Me hopes so.
7. Saturday watch Jayhawks (maybe), then Saturday tournament. Bust out in first hour.
8. Saturday night go to German place to eat with Biggestron and others. Then probably play poker.
9. Sunday NFL day? I have no idea how this works. I'm sure I'll be filled in.
10. Leave that night. Kiss kids and wife hundreds of thousands of times Monday morning.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Punishment

Thursday, when I fly out to Vegas (less than 48 hours away whooooooooooo), will be the first day in almost two weeks that I'll take a day off from a hard workout.
Most of those days were filled with running, through snow, up hills and at sweat-inducing speeds, even in the bitter cold that's blanketed my state.
Today was one of the toughest workouts. I took part in a running analysis at the University of Northern Colorado. It's a biomechanical running study at UNC, and I volunteered because I'm only in my fourth year of running, like, ever, and as a result I've never had much coaching beyond what my friends tell me and whatever advice our leader can give me in between watching 40 other runners during our track workouts.
So I'm pretty excited to get some tips on my form.
I think that's where I am right now. I can't really train much harder than I am, given my three little kids. I could watch my diet more, but I'm fairly lean as it is. I could sleep more, but that's up to my girls, not me (and no, after 18 months, they are not sleeping through the night yet).
The trial was 10 three-minute intervals ran at a speed a little faster than a tempo run. He wanted me to run at a "6" on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest. For me that was eight miles an hour, or about a 7:30-per-mile pace (I think; I hate math). On the third minute, he would put the treadmill at an incline, and either I was supposed to run through it or tell the guy to back off until I was running at the same effort when the treadmill was flat.
My light shirt was soaked at the end of the trial, especially after the last two, when he bumped the treadmill up to 15 degrees. That may not sound like much, but it was brutal, trust me. It was all I could do not to fall off it.
My reward for the hard work will be an hour (!) of analysis about my form and other tips on how to improve as a runner.
I'm all for it. Anything I can do to avoid feeling like I do right now will be welcome.
Really the only thing that will help with that is rest, and I'll get plenty of that in Vegas.
Well, rest from running, anyway.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A girl after my own heart

The girls have talked a lot lately, far ahead of Jayden's schedule (though you wouldn't know that now; quiet moments are rare in our house). They can say book and Daddy and doggie and lots of other words.
Yesterday I was showing Allie seven inches of powder falling outside the house.
Today as we were getting her ready for day care, she looked out the window.
"Snooooooooooooooo," she said.
My heart melted.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hey hey have you read the news?

Today my newspaper laid off three people. I'm relieved to have dodged the bloodletting, but I'm sad for the loss. We lost some good people today.
I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I wrote a speech for my fifth-grade English class, and though it only got me a B+ (making me feel a bit like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story"), I remembered my mother saying, "You know, you're lucky because you can write."
Writing was always easy, even when math was hard, Chemistry was granite-hard and Geometry was downright impossible (I squeaked out a D in that class, probably because I didn't talk in class so the teacher felt sorry for me). I really actually should not say "easy" because writing is never easy, but it was something I could do.
I couldn't really do anything else. I was a horrible athlete, so I'd have to set aside hopes of multi-million-dollar contracts. I hated (hate) gladhanding, so my political career would have to be limited civil disobedience like not paying the meters in protest of all the bad parking on my college campus. I couldn't make it in the military, so I had to settle for saving the world by killing billions of aliens in "Halo."
But I remember taking journalism I in high school and thinking, "Hey. Writing. I can do THAT." And though I wasn't very good at first - maybe, if you read my stories or this blog, you might wonder if I've ever improved - I got better and decided that newspapers were something I could do for a job. I didn't want to write a novel. I wanted to make money writing. And so, when I was a junior in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a career.
All my friends went through 15 majors by the time they were sophomores, but I stayed with journalism. It was what I wanted to do.
After 15 years in the business, I still can't imagine doing anything else. The pay is still bad, and the hours can be tough, but the job, meeting people and writing great stories and occasionally covering breaking news is still damn fun. I wouldn't want to spend an election night anywhere else but a newsroom or out that night working on an assignment.
Yeah, journalism has many problems, and this business is filled with assholes, but I still believe in this profession.
I love my job. How many can really say that?
Now I'm left pondering if there won't be a job for us any longer in 10 years. Maybe five. I can't imagine newspapers just dying. But then again, I can't imagine doing anything else.
I'll be 40 in three years. Starting over at that age seems pretty tough to me. But I may not have a choice.

Free is the new half-price

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

All bloggers can play in this exclusive online poker tournament.

Registration code: 187996





I don't know how many of these I'll make, but I hope I can make some.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Superstition

I don't believe in superstition. It's a crutch for the weak to say that they forgot their lucky bloody rabbit stump and that's why their hand lost to a three-outer on the river.
But I do believe in variance. I am, in fact, a follower of it, and that leads me to practice some superstition.
The problem with being on a hot streak, as I've enjoyed lately (well, I WAS enjoying it, but I'll get to that in a bit) is I know eventually it has to end. That's an incredibly cynical way to look at it, but I've always believed that cynicism really is just a comfortable relationship with the truth.
I've played enough poker to know that the good times eventually end. That's especially because I'm a solid, tight player who relies on cards more than I should to determine whether I have a good session or not.
Sure, I play my cards and play them well, but I still have to have the weapons to kidnap chips, and my weapons come more from good hands rather than super-powerful-retarded-aggressive play.
So because of this, rather than most players who can't wait to hit the felt when they're hot, I hesitate to play. I fear that bad session that I know is right around the corner and may spoil the golden, happy aura that surrounds me when I run hot.
It's probably cost me some money. Poker can be pretty self-fulfilling, and if you think you're going to lose, the chances are you will lose. But also when you're hot, you're playing with confidence, and by not playing, I'm not taking advantage of that confidence, which, unfortunately, deteriorates along with my luck.
All of this is a good way of saying I found myself somewhat relieved last night when I took the worst beating of my life. I lost six buy-ins before making a really good comeback and finishing only a couple down.
When I was in the throes of it, I did not win a pot, not even the blinds, for almost five hours.
So why was I relieved? Well, just as I believe good fortunes end, I also believe you put in your time for a bad session, and once you've paid that tax, your fortunes will reverse again.
That's variance, the God I follow.
And what better way to burn off a bad session than to your friends, during a Saturday night poker game, with Arena Rock on the tube, queso in your bowl and, best of all, $5 worth of chips in front of you?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Haze up in my brain

I finally did well in the Turkey Trot today, known as the Thanksgiving 5K with a ton of hills. I ran 22:27, my third-best time ever in a 5K, at 7:13 per-mile.
And then we decorated the house, put up the tree and watched football.
And we chased around the kids at my brother-in-law's house and ate and ate and ate and, ugh, what do they call that stuff in the turkey? Trip-two-what? Tripgohfan? Trip.....
ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Four observations from $5 limit poker

I went up to Black Hawk with two of my best friends and home game players Saturday for some $5 limit poker. It might be the last time I play it.
Colorado voters approved a law that changes the betting limits from $5 per bet to $100 per bet. That will completely change the game, as you might expect, and I doubt I'll ever play it when there's other options.

• As you might expect, $5 poker can be extremely frustrating, as it's almost unusual when your hand actually holds up. You feel like a child tip-toeing through Serbia when you play A-A, as that hand rarely holds. A $5 limit just isn't enough of a threat to drive players out, and many are there to have fun, not play real poker, so they'll play anything, and you'll see crazy, crazy things. I can't tell you how many times I saw small pocket pairs carried to the river through a board of overcards and raises, only for the donkey to hit his miracle set/full house on the river.
Still, the game can be profitable. If your hands DO hold, you can drag huge pots. Last night I dragged huge pots with pocket pairs such as K-K twice. My queens were the only hand to get cracked, by a set of 9s, and that was only once.

• Poker is filled with douchebags, and as much as I love live poker, I hate spending more time with these people than I do with my kids, even if it's for only one day. Just one example was a guy, wearing white cowboy boots and a Miami Vice beard, who would flash his neighbor his cards before folding, and the tablemates, after a while, told him to show everyone else his hand. He refused. The floor was called for the fifth time in an hour to that table - apparently he'd already gotten into it a few times - and the floor told him to show. The floor, rightly, said show one, show all was a universal rule in poker. The guy argued with him for at least 10 minutes about it. If I was the floor, I would have kicked him out. Another guy wore an eye patch and bitched ruthlessly when people drew out on him. I called him Blackbeard.
But it's also filled with interesting people. I met a black guy at the table who was calling everything, I mean everything, and getting miracle card after miracle card. He took a lot of shit at the table, but the thing was, whenever someone took a huge pot off him, he was a gentleman about it and always said nice hand.
He later told me he was in Colorado to bury his mother and for therapy - his daughter in college was killed in, I think, an auto crash recently. l later shared my pizza with him. He won maybe 40 pots that night but left $200 down.

• I was down probably $50 and almost ready to leave when I was dealt Q-Q. I raised, and four called. This was not unusual despite my tight image. The board came all low cards, rainbow, so I bet when my opponents checked, and two called until the young kid who was loose but a decent player raised me. He had pulled this all night,so I gave him a look and re-popped him. I didn't see him having K-K or A-A because he didn't re-raise me, and I didn't think he had a set, but I had to find out. He sighed and called. He check called me to the river and mucked, and that pot put me up $30 for the night after 11 hours of donkey poker. I'll take it.

• Poker is a lot more fun with friends, even if you have to take each other's money occasionally. I didn't even mind when they did. I'd rather lose to them than the douchebags.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A productive day at work

OK, let's see...sit down at desk, check my email, check personal e-mail, check yahoo/blog email, tell April I'll trade with her.
Look at list of things to do today.
Pull up Facebook page. Wow. Lots to do. Harvest crops in farm, plant new crops, plow, plant trees given by generous friends, make snarky comments on friends' walls, escape from kidnapping, check notifications, check notification that just appeared, send apple trees to friends who farm, send derby gifts, accept drinks.
Call agent of country music star to find how why he hasn't called. Agent says she doesn't know. Finish checking e-mail.
Dig out Halloween candy and eat a piece. Candy is SUCH a bad habit of mine. Think about this, then dig out another piece. Chew piece of gum to prevent third piece of being eaten.
Start to read blogs. Breeze through a few, read a great post by Drizz, enjoy afterglow for a second.
Check personal e-mail again. Say hi to a friend over e-mail.
Finish Facebook farming. Farming is hard work! Ponder picking a team for Fantasy Sports Live. Reject idea. That can wait until Friday.
Call Fort Lupton planner for story. He's out of the office. Shit. Country music star calls from Colorado pass. His phone breaks up every third minute. He calls back two more times.
Check Facebook again. More farm gifts, more snarky comments from friends, more drinks.
Check it one more time. Yes, I'm obsessive.
Talk with co-workers. Check email again. Pee. Get water.
Throw a snowball back over facebook.
Actually work. Get story written.
Check Facebook again. Sweet, my wheat. Harvest.
Call Dad. Say hi. Tell him we got Jayden a big bed. Yes, he's excited. Who wouldn't be excited about a Cars comforter and a Wall-E sheet set?
Lunch. Read Metallica article in magazine.
Check Facebook when I get back. Check e-mail. Call a source. Turn in photo request.
Dream about live poker Saturday (Colorado casinos, my birthday present). Dream about Vegas poker for just a second. Snap back to reality.
Call subjects for my long year-long project.
April and Betty Underground have accepted my friend request on Facebook. Celebrate. Write thanks to BG and April.
Edit board meeting. Discuss. Pontificate. Try to act smart. Succeed. Sorta.
Read message from April. Dream about Vegas again. Think about what I'm going to do tonight. Get call from wife. Tell her I"m working out. Yes, I'll be home at 5 p.m. I have no idea what I want for dinner.
Check e-mail again.
Sigh over Dow Jones report. Read Google news about it. Stop reading. It's too depressing.
Work. Get photo request turned in. Call source for fun story about how soon is too soon for all the Christmas stuff.
Check Facebook again before you to that. OK, you've done that. Now work. OK.
OK, I'm done with that. Read blogs, done with blogs.
Facebook? Dammit, why did my co-workers introduce me to that?
Get interview with town planner finally. Man, I only have 45 minutes to write that story before I have to leave? Where does the time go?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When imitation is not really the highest form of flattery

Andie was watching me soap up a washcloth and squeezing it all over her and Allie during their bath. She grabbed a washcloth, and before I realized what she was doing, squeezed the washcloth full of water all over me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Small privileges, unfulfilled

Saturday's holiday photo shoot at Sears was pretty much a disaster. We'd coax, say, Andie on to the sled, and then Allie would run away. Rinse and repeat. We got, maybe, three shots of the girls together, and they have their pacifiers/heroin needles in their mouths because they would not let us take them out.
Understandably, they were a little nervous, and understandably, I know it's hard to hold still when you're 18 months, and understandably, the Sears photographer pretty much just sat there and expected all of our three kids under 4 to pose and smile and be darling little babies, but man I was frustrated. Kate picked out great outfits for the girls, and I got Jayden looking snappy, and I had to settle for a pretty lame shot. We were, quite frankly, lucky to get one.
You get what you pay for. Sears is $10, and you get 36 prints. we had a limited amount of time, in an unfamiliar studio, and that's probably not going to yield a classic shot for three active little demon children who think sitting still is a crime. We can't afford a $175 studio fee, or the prints that would come later. I was kind of wishing for her, since she takes such great shots of her kids. I do fairly well, but a posed, nice shot of the three of them together takes a real, expensive professional, probably in our home, where they are comfortable.
The bigger issue is I have long surrendered to the fact that since we have twins (and a toddler), many of the little pleasures of being a parent aren't available, like, I dunno, getting a nice photo in a simple, inexpensive studio. All the parents and their adorable little singletons were mobbing the studio, and every time, they were getting great shots of their little reindeers. I mean, the thing is, you're going to have moments when your singleton runs around, but you'll also have moments when they are quiet and smiling. We certainly had those moments with one or even two, but three was next to impossible.
Sunday morning Andie came up to me and handed me a book. The girls are just now really getting into reading. I picked her up and read her a story. She loved it, loved the individual attention and the book and time on my lap, and she grabbed another and held it up.
I would have loved to spend a half-hour or more with her doing that, but I heard noises in the other room. Allie, of course, was in the bathroom, pulling toilet paper off the roll.
When I got that solved, Andie was headed upstairs, and the chaos continued. I've learned to surrender to the chaos. Sometimes, though, the grind hits bone.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review of Lock Pocker

A stroll through Lock Poker sure brought back the good old days.
You remember them too. We used to play on all kinds of poker Web sites, and we didn't care if they were good or bad, just if they had some fish and there was a bonus to chase.
Well, Lock Poker, God bless 'em, is a new site giving online poker a go, and it's accepting U.S. players, and just for those two facts alone, it's worth a look in this age. And it's handing out deposit bonuses. It makes me weepy with nostalgia just thinking about it. I even had some jackass challenge me to a heads-up match at "high stakes" at the .10/.20 tables. All, the good old days.
Speaking of, I was playing at those levels because that's all the money I could afford there, but also because plenty of good action, the only good action I could really see on the site.
To be honest, reminiscing and a good bonus are really the only reasons to play on Lock Poker if you're a higher limit player. The software isn't bad, but it's not that great, either, and you can find better software on the more popular sites. The players are decent enough where you can expect a lot of grinding sessions. And there aren't a lot of live games at the higher limits.
However, if you're still a low limit player - welcome to the club, by the way, here's some wine from a box in a paper cup - you might want to give Lock Poker a try. There were a lot of .10/.20 No-Limit games going on a Friday night, as Lock poker operates on the Cake Poker network. That included a TON of 6-max games, which are fun and quite frankly I need to play more because it tends to get the sand out of my vagina. I was four-tabling the games at one point and could have managed more. It was a blast and another return to the good old days, when I would be all proud of winning $5 on the night.
As with many other poker sites trying to get its name out there, Lock Poker does offer a couple interesting carrots.
First of all, you can collect gold chips to redeem for tournaments, and the more gold chips you have, the easier it is to get FPP points to get them. Grinders like me appreciate that.
Second, you can chase after gold cards.
The site's Random Number Generator (RNG) will release one Gold Card from the vault each time it reaches a certain amount of rake. If the Gold Card released matches one of your hole cards, you're golden even if you have folded out of the hand.
The first player to collect a full 52 Gold Card Series Deck will win the grand prize $52,000 cash Jackpot! If no player reaches that milestone, the site will award the $52,000 cash prize to the player that comes closest. Understand? I'm not sure I do, either, but it seems kinda neat.
Ultimately, I hope Lock Poker can make it. I'd love to see more poker sites dipping a toe into what is sure to be a shitty market, if for no other reason than to keep it viable. Lock Poker doesn't have much to separate itself from the big boys, but then again, give it a look for another stroll down memory lane, maybe for the last time ever.

P.S. Bloggers, if you're considering a review, Lock Poker has a $500 minimum for cashing out with checks, so I'm not sure how to get my money out now, given that I don't have an E-wallet XPress account. Has anyone done one of those? I am tempted to grind it up to $500 to cash out. That could be fun. Waffles thinks I should just try a $100 SnG. That's tempting too. What would you do?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm a peepin' tom techie with X-ray eyes

I was in my blue surgical cap, on the table, surrounded by instruments that could probably turn me into a superhero if something went wrong, when the nurse handed me a stuffed red alligator.
Wow. Really? I was already a little nervous. I didn't know this was going to be so bad that I was going to need a stuffed animal to calm me down.
But I was getting Lasik done. They mess with your eyes. Most people, including me, don't like that. If you tend to get freaked out at things like the scene in "A Clockwork Orange," then you might not want to keep reading. I wasn't even going to write about this, but LJ requested it, in exchange for a poker lesson (she doesn't know that yet, and I would imagine her lesson will be something like "get your panties out of a wad and shove shove shove shove shove, but whatever).
The nurse dropped a waterfall of numbing medicine in my eyes. Keep 'em coming, I thought, and she did, one after the other. Then she told me to lean back.
"Make sure you hold on to Jorge the alligator," she said as the doctor put a patch over my left eye. "You're going to need to keep your hands down."
OH, not worries. I was stroking his plush head. I wasn't really scared - I had wanted Lasik for years and finally found some extra cash through writing for Pokerworks and starting a Health Savings Account at work - but I needed the comfort anyway. I turned down Valium - I'm not a big fan of meds, and I worried that the red light you're supposed to stare at would get me into a Pink Floyd-like state that I would find hard to leave.
Doc slipped on some tiny steel bear traps over my eyelids to keep leftie open. Then he put a suction cup over my eye and said, after a few seconds, "pressure on." Everything went brown. Then I heard a buzzing and he said, "blade on." He was cutting a flap in my eye so the laser could do its work.
This was, by far, the most uncomfortable part of the procedure, and it's not pleasant. It hurts a little, and it's kind of spooky, as my 3-year-old likes to say in the dark. The good news is it takes less than a minute. I'll trade a minute for the chance to pitch my contacts, which have caused me far more pain than high school girlfriends.
The laser came next, and that's not so bad. You get to stare at a little red light, and that's pretty trippy. I highly recommend it. You'll smell a burning - that's your eye getting cooked. But I didn't feel any pain. I thought it was kinda cool, and again, it's less than a minute.
Still, Jorge got some good lovin' when I smelled my eye.
Now that I knew what was coming, I think I calmed down a bit more when it was time for leftie. Eyedrops, pressure, brownout, blade, a bit of pain, freaky red light, laser, then he sponges your eye for a while, then you're done. It took 10 minutes.
I had to wait in the lobby for a half-hour for my ride to get there because they fit me in early. That was the hardest part. My eyes hurt, even with the ibuprofen I took, and the glare from the sun, even with the shades drawn, felt like white daggers. When I finally got home from Wal-Mart after filling a prescription, I was relieved to hit the hay and sleep it off. When I woke up three hours later, the pain had subsided considerably.
Today it's like looking through a slight fog, but I can see, even now. And I have my doctors, Icon and a trippy laser to thank.
Oh, and Jorge.

ome details:
• My procedure cost $1700. I have a pretty easy fix - my eyesight was about 20/100 - but I did have a little astigmatism.
• I chose a Lasik clinic because that's all those places do, and I figured it would be cheaper. I was right. I went with Icon Lasik, but I'm not sure if it operates anywhere but in Colorado. I thought they were careful and did a good job so far.
• I am already watching TV without my glasses or contacts for the first time since I was in the seventh grade. Amazing.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'm outta here (for now)

I'm tuning out for a couple of days, for two reasons.
Firstly (I've always wanted to say that, it makes me sound smart even if it's a totally bad usage of English), this may be my only chance to see a WSOP Main Event final table and not know who wins.
I hope the 90-day thing continues next year to be honest. I enjoyed getting to know the players (I even got to interview a couple) and have developed a rooting interest. Plus this will be fun, like watching a real sport when I don't know what happens.
I also don't think the fact that we didn't hear as much about the final table players has as much to do with the 90-day idea as just the fact that there was, um, a whole lot of shit going on. Let's see, a historic election (in so many ways than just electing our first black president) and, oh yeah, the economy is kinda bad, isn't it. The mainstream media writing a ton about poker before the final table would just seem a little, ya know, frivolous (and if you're one of the great writers who covers the poker scene, relax, I'm not calling your job frivolous, in some ways I envy you, but that's probably how newspapers would view it).
So I'm tuning out until Tuesday, when I'll get to see for myself who win. At least, I hope I can see it, because...
Secondly, I am getting Lasik done Tuesday morning. I'm excited and a bit nervous at the same time. I'm ready to get rid of these glasses and pitch my contacts out the window. But it IS my eyes.
Wish me luck. And please don't blow it in the comments and tell me who wins. I know you're not that much of a douchebag, right?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I'm there. For now, I'm there

I am incredibly cynical about politics. I really don't believe politicians are in office for anyone but themselves.
I guess being a reporter will do that to you, but it's also stomaching the constant corruption, the trading of votes for personal favors, the pork, all to get themselves re-elected.
This country was turning to shit.
But that's not why I'm writing this blog tonight.
Tonight I am giving our country a fresh look.
Tonight Obama was elected president.
I was hesitant to fall under his spell, the way so many others have fallen, and his magic incense. My cynicism wouldn't let me. I supported him for more than a year, but that's mainly because of two things, the fact that I'm a bleeding heart, and the fact that I really, really, absolutely, hate Bush.
Bush is a big reason why politics soured my throat and sandpapered my tongue. He was so horrible as a president, and he was a guy who never should have been president. He lost the popular vote and would have lost the election to Al Gore had Florida not fucked the pooch. And he performed like a guy who didn't deserve the job. I honestly wonder if we can ever overcome the damage he's done.
Yet I am optimistic, and that, dear readers, blows me away. My optimism comes basically from one man. Again, I was not willing to fall for Obama's act, even after his brilliant speech at the DNC. I was willing to support him and vote for him, but part of me worried about so many people just loving the guy a little too much.
The cynical side of me thought it all seemed a little too much like a high school campaign for student council president. You remember those, right? Those elections were nothing more than popularity contests, electing glad handers and quarterbacks and guys who had Tom Cruise haircuts and drew doe-eyed gazes from freshmen who let themselves be felt up behind the bleachers just to say he did it.
I hated those guys. So maybe the geek in me, as well as the cynic, just didn't want to drink the Kool-Aid.
But then I was assigned to cover Obama when he gave a last-minute speech in Fort Collins, a town about 20 miles north of Greeley. Only that's not entirely accurate. I was excited to cover his speech. I called Mom and told her about it all the way up. I called my brother too.
I grappled with his staff for a while, then assigned myself to the media row, got raped by his Secret Service agents, and listened to Kayne West with the other tens of thousands while waiting for him to speak.
He came out right on time, about a kickoff return from where I stood, and I was smitten five seconds into his talk. He joked with the crowd. He seemed relaxed and confident and like he actually enjoyed talking to us.
And I remember thinking, for the first time, that this country was sure turning to shit, but maybe everything would be OK again with him as our leader. Maybe my kids would grow up in a good place.
This is big for me.
Tonight is election night, and my stories are done, and I can be a Democrat, rather than a reporter, and I have more hope than I've had for a long time.
A long, long time.
Hell, Colorado even approved a measure that raises the betting limits to $100 per wager. Hello, quasi-no-limit live poker, and goodbye $5 donkey poker.
Now I have a feeling that things are so bad right now, that Obama isn't going to fix everything. Hell, he may not fix anything. He's going to have to fight hard to keep his job, quite frankly, and all these rosy feelings won't last forever. They won't last long, in fact, when more people lose their jobs and the economy keeps tanking.
But for now, for the next few weeks, OK, you got me, Obama. You have me believing that we can pull out of the mess in Iraq and lower food prices and keep gas prices low and maybe even solve global warming and develop new energy sources and turn this country around and make it better than ever.
For now, I"ll say it with you.
Yes we can.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Hey! Look at me!

A couple quick points to kinda brag about, other than the kids below this post.


Today I ran a 10K. I was feeling crappy all this week, and the source of the crappiness, a bad cold, eventually turned into a sinus infection, as they are wont to do. I had no expectations. Yet I set a PR by 1 minute, 40 seconds, with a time of 46:57. A PR in a 10K by even a half-minute is huge, so I was thrilled. My pace was 7:34 per mile, and I didn't really feel like I was banging it all that hard. I think maybe the illness helped me because it forced me to take time off. I was hoping to break 47 minutes sometime next year. I guess antibiotics are the new steroids.


I also wrote two pieces for Pokerworks on two final table participants, "Chino" Rheem and Dennis Phillips. I really enjoyed interviewing them both, but I really really had fun talking to Phillips, who would become probably the most "regular" guy Main Event champion in history. I'm rooting for him. He is a great guy.

Here are the stories.


Dennis Phillips


David "Chino" Rheem

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween












I took Jayden trick or treating for the first time as a parent. As a kid I LOVED trick or treating. I remember going to school once when I could barely walk and puking every hour because I knew if I didn't go that day I wouldn't be able to go that night. I used to ride my bike into other neighborhoods and would spend hours doing it. This is partly because of my sense of adventure and partly because of my addiction to candy.

The girls were bears. Sorry I don't have a good shot of them. They were tired and cranky. Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cough, cough

I'm battling my way through the 38th sinus infection of my life, which is wonderful timing, considering I'm running a 10K this weekend.
Yeah, I know what you're saying, but I really don't run that many races. Probably more than you, but not really enough that each one isn't special and doesn't deserve to be kicked around by a stupid illness.
I'll post pictures of Halloween Friday night. Sorry I haven't posted pictures of the kids in a long time. I need to be better about that. You won't believe how the girls have changed. Jayden's changed, too, though mostly that involves him sassing off to us every third sentence and not his appearance.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The five stupidest thing you can say to parents of multiples

5. "Are they twins?"
I know, this one is kinda bitchy, but this is a bitchy post. It's a way for people to open a conversation about your twins, but perhaps it's possible we may not want to talk about our twins while we're trying to have dinner. Sometimes we know how athletes must feel. Granted, we get the attention a second-string punter might get, but it's still occasionally unwanted attention.
My response sometimes to this is, "No, they're three months apart," and then revel in their confusion.
4. "Your wife must be busy."
Yes, I guess. I've been spending most of my time at the Playboy Mansion playing strip poker and $4,000-$8,000 stud with Larry Flynt at the Hustler.
Um, guess what? SO AM I. You CANNOT raise twins and not have a husband willing to do half of the work. Well, and keep a marriage going, anyway.
3. "Are they natural?"
What, do you mean if they're made of plastic? Are you asking if they're a new, realistic Barbie doll line? Are you asking if we just put them together ourselves in the basement?
No, what you're asking is if we had fertility treatments. OK, I'll answer that, as long as you're willing to talk about your sex life as well. Let's start with orgasms and your love of pink feathers and go from there, shall we?
2. "You've got your hands full."
No, shit, Sherlock.
I probably have heard this 76,869 times since the girls were born.
1. "I have two kids that are xx months apart, so I know EXACTLY what it's like to have twins."
No, you fucking don't. You have no idea. Sorry, this one's touchy. That's why it's #1.
Your 18-month old or whatever was sleeping through the night, able to walk around on his own, feed herself, take a bath without constant help, drink on his own, etc. Shall I go on? For at least six months, I walked around with a baby almost constantly. We were getting up three times a night, at least, both of us, without a break. When I visited the doctor's office, I carried two carriers inside, propping the door open with my ass while I struggled with both inside, mostly while people watched me with their mouths open. Meanwhile, your 18-month-old probably held the door open for you.
I have a 3-year-old, too. I know what it's like to raise a toddler and an infant. It's not the same thing. It's not even close.
The next time someone says this to me, I throw chipmunk piss on them and throw them to the coyotes that howl by our house late at night.

P.S. Bonus: "Are they identical?"
Parents of opposite-sex twins tell me they still get this question, which boggles my mind. Um, yes, except for his penis. And, well, I guess her...never mind. I'm done.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Am I lame? I am, Sam, I am

I remember, at 15, being indignant at Mom when she did not know who Def Leppard was.
"Hello, Mom? Foolin? Rock of Ages?"
The small part of my brain not reserved for Heather Thomas and her pink bikini cramped up when she shook her head. OMG, I thought, only I spelled it out because Internet chat was not invented yet.
I figured, of course, that Mom knew the Scorpions, at least. Surely everyone had heard of "Rock You Like A Hurricane."
Nope. Whitesnake? Culture Club? After The Fire (granted, a one-hit wonder, but Holy Cow what a song).
I was flabbergasted. I mean I could not BELIEVE that no one could be living on Planet Earth and not hear of these bands.
But for the past few months I find myself falling more and more out of touch with today's music.
And it's kinda bugging me.


The link shows my devotion to music. Remember it?

I used to stay up until 2 a.m., with only a small space heater that turned off every three minutes, to watch music videos because not only was it important to know every single song on Casey Casem's Top 40 Countdown (as well as plenty of hair metal), I had to see the latest ZZ Top video too (I mean, who could blame me, those storylines were the best).
That show was, for me, the only way to see them. If you were one of those rich, spoiled, insufferable kids who actually had cable in their houses (and I still hate you for that), then you may not because you got to watch Mtv before it concerned itself with showing hot-tub hookups instead of Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue".
I would always prop up my droopy eyelids and snack on Doritos when they only had one flavor and still always wake up at 3:30 a.m. with drool on my chin and carpet marks indented into the left side of my face.

I think, at some point, you have to accept the fact that you aren't as hip as you were when you were younger. For me this point came when I was scrubbing Jayden's poop off my shirt for the third time that day.
I've accepted it. I buy most of my clothes at Kohl's. I rarely, if ever, visit a bar anymore and would be the guy behind the velvet rope all night at a nightclub. I don't keep up with TV shows
I do keep up with movies, but that's because Netflix makes it so easy, and my cue is still so long, that it's doubtful I'll get through them even after they appear on next year's Academy Awards show.
So this is not about being hip. This is about my love of music.
Today I probably couldn't tell you what the number-one song is any longer, and not only that, I definitely haven't heard it. I used to pride myself on knowing more about it than practically anyone. Music, and my time in the band, gave me self esteem in high school when I really had no reason to have any of it.

I don't really worry about it too much - I mean, anyone who had "Somewhere In Time" and "Powerslave" in his car's CD player the other day can't be THAT concerned about it - but I do wonder what I"m missing these days. There are some great bands out there - Kings of Leon, for instance - that I don't really know.
So here's what I have now. I have Mtv2's "Headbanger's Ball." I have a small army of friends who occasionally give me CDs full of Mp3s (thanks Bad Blood and Michelle). I have Internet radio and Pandora.
And if all that isn't enough, and Jayden, at 15, one day approaches me, all indignant because I haven't heard of the Dirty Rock Sitters, well, then I can just send him to his room.







Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Review of Poker Eagles

I have to admit, when I was asked to review Poker Eagles, my first thought was to do a paint-by-numbers write-up.
Hey! Have you checked out (link here)? It offers lots of (link)poker information, with hand rankings, a forum and a blog. There's even some strategy articles! Check out (link) today! You won't be disappointed!
OK, so I did check out the site, and, well, I was kinda impressed.
Yes, there actually IS a poker forum , but most sites have a forum. You'll also find the usual poker rules and, yes, a blog.
But beyond that are some interesting features. For instance, there's a poker room reviews, but it goes far beyond reviews of online sites. You'll actually find reviews of Las Vegas, Atlantic City and even east Chicago poker rooms, in addition to reviews of poker books and poker tracking software. Granted, many of these reviews aren't expansive, but many do offer enough information to make a good choice.
Some other cool features include poker movie reviews with clips ("Rounders" included of course), lots of information on how to put on a home game and even a quiz on certain hands. I disagreed with some of the answers, but that is poker. I know Waffles would disagree with most of them since some of the answers call for a fold. Unfortunately an ad covered some of the text of the quiz, but that could have been my Safari browser. Still, these little details can mar an otherwise good site.
There are even some tips on sports betting.
There is some stuff on Poker Eagles to warrant a look and probably even a browse or two. At the very least, it warrants a review beyond a paint-by-numbers template.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Anticipation

The alarm chirps at 5 a.m., and my running partner chirps right along with it. I groan and put the pillow over my head.
I am not a morning person. Not only that, but I do not understand the ones who are. At all. My wife of six years happens to be one. I still do not understand them.
The night/morning looks crisp and clear. Dark, too. I manage a grin. She's still talking over in the other bed with a friend. The three of us bunked for the night. The starting line is two blocks away.
The debates start right away, both in my mind and between me and my two female roommates for the night.
(On a side note, just to show you our commitment to the sport, Kate and my running partner's husband barely batted an eye when we said we were going to stay in a hotel room that night. Yes, the third friend being there helped, but 95 percent of that was because WE HAD A RACE THE NEXT DAY. I mean, duh, we wouldn't let a stupid thing like sex keep us awake before a big half marathon. We were asleep by 10 p.m.).
Hat? No hat? Long sleeved shirt or short sleeved shirt? Oatmeal? Banana? How much water should I drink? Carry a goo or hope they have it on the course? When should we leave?
I flip on the TV and race around the channels for a weather report. We finally call the front desk for the temperature. 40 degrees. Ooooo. Perfect.
I ditch the hat at the last second, rub Body Glide over my toes and body, bring gloves and a goo, stick the iPod Shuffle on my shorts, and we head out. It's chilly and my teeth start to chatter.
The sun has just started to light the sky. We crunch in the crowd of 10,000. Runners chatter. We bump and grind our way near the front. Some giggle. Others stare straight ahead with glass eyes, preparing their minds to blot out the pain that awaits.
My teeth stop chattering as the collective body heat of 10,000 fit machines warms me.
God, I feel good.
Why do I run? The races. And the priceless moments before they begin.


P.S. Today I ran the Denver Half Marathon and beat my own personal best by three minutes, finishing in 1:47. My pace was 8:08 per mile. I was thrilled when I (finally) crossed the line. I'm no elite runner, finishing 487/3877 and 77/286 in my age group, but I was happy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hand follow up

All right, so when we last left, I was faced with a stiff bet holding a set of 5s, which was top set on the flop, on a 3,4,5 board. The small blind bet $5, the big blind bet $15, and I called the raise cold. The small blind called the raise as well. The big blind has a full stack of $100 NL, as I do, and the small blind has about $65.
On the turn, a 10 of clubs, the small blind checks, and the big blind bet $40, about the size of the pot.

So I pushed.
And lost.
The big blind flopped a straight with 7-6.

Hearing a little feedback on this made me feel a little better about my push. I was a little upset at myself because I kind of thought I was beat and yet pushed anyway. I could not pair the board because that would require sucking out and I lost.

This was an incredibly tight table, and the way he played the hand suggested that he did have the goods and I ignored that little voice inside. I'm not sure but I think I should have folded the turn. I was only 20 percent to win by then.

The feedback was helpful, though I disagree with one comment made by all three. They advocated raising. Folks, I am not going to raise in early position with a small pair in a cash game. I might do that in a tournament if the table was tight, but in a cash game, the only thing I can win is the tiny blind by raising.
I understand by showing strength, I could follow with a c-bet. And I also understand that raising might have driven some players out of the hand, which could have helped me avoid this mess in the first place, but I doubt a $3 raise would have gotten the big blind to fold anyway with 7-6 sooted. That's a perfect hand to defend your blind with against one raise.

The big blind's play fooled me. I thought, as some of you did, that there's no way he would play a straight that hard. A look at the preflop action might have helped me, as he did not raise, so that ruled out an overpair, in my mind, and really reduced his hands to two-pair or a set of 4s or 3s or 7-6.
Would it have fooled you?



P.S. Mucho thanks to rakebrain for last night's freeroll. I had a blast.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A hand to ponder and playing the rakebrain freeroll

I think I made a bad play on the .50/$1 NL cash tables early this morning and would like some feedback.

I have 5,5 in early position. I limp in. A player with a full stack ($100) completes and the big blind, who has $65, checks.
The flop comes 3,4,5 rainbow.
It's a fairly scary flop, but I am prepared to bet it.

The small blind bets $5, $2 over the pot. The big blind raises to $15.
Wow.
I have top set. I decide to call. I would like to see what he does on the turn and I would also like to see what the small blind does. He just calls.
This table, like all the others this morning, have been really tight. It's hard these days to get paid off on the weekdays, but that's another issue.
The turn is a 10 of clubs. That puts two clubs on the board. The small blind checks. I put him on a small overpair, maybe 7-7 or 6-6 would make sense as well. I'm pretty sure I have him beat.
The big blind bets nearly the pot, $40.

What do you do here? I'll tell you what I did later, as well as my (probably flawed) thoughts on the hand.




Let's hope I don't face a situation like this one at the Rakebrain blogger challenge on Full Tilt. LeCheese has been replaced by LeTune, but I'm more worried about the slew of bloggers I'll face in this Thursday at 7 p.m. (mountain time).

Prize pool will be $1000 and the game is Pot Limit HA as usual.


I also know he was looking to fill a couple spots so if you're interested you might leave a comment in the blog session.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunrise

It's cold. Pretty damn cold, actually. It says 23 degrees on my clock inside the house. It exaggerates sometimes. I look outside my window. There's a thick coat of frost on the ground. I don't think it's exaggerating this time.
I buckle in Andie and give her and Allie a kiss and tell Jayden good-bye. Bye, they say. A&A wave, a new trick they've just learned, and say "biiiiii."
I walk upstairs and dig out the tights. The running tights make me look great and kinda fruity at the exact same time. It's the only thing I own that does it. Usually I just look boring. I pull them on. They feel like a second skin. Cool. I pull on my long-sleeved shirt. I put on the body glide. I lace up my shoes. I turn on the GPS to measure my pace. Today I'll have to go at 90 percent for my tempo run. I put on some thin gloves and a hat. It's really winter already? I shake my head.
I yawn. The sun is not up yet.
I walk outside, instinctively shivering, and my breath hangs like a low cloud. I shrug off the bite and start to run easy. No, not too fast. You need to warm up first, especially in this. I want to go faster. I'll be warmer. I resist. I look down at the GPS. 8:30 pace. Oops. Nope. Not yet.
I start up the first small hill that leads to the long road down to the trail and the steep hill that awaits. My iPod plays the new AnteUp! poker podcast. It relaxes me. My right arm tenses up. I release it, limping the hands below my waist.
I hit the road, and a few cars pass me. Irritated drivers. Why isn't he on the sidewalk? 'Cause it's concrete, I whisper. I run on too much, and I won't run when I'm 50.
I kick it up a gear. I start to breathe. Faster. My breath still a cloud. The first test, a steep hill. I punch through it, breathing even harder. Now I'm laboring. The hill starts to slope down. Ahhh.
I look down. Pace is 7:40. Oops. Not this time. I slow down and keep it at 8:15. That's better.
Man, it's still cold.
Halfway. I charge down a steep hill and head for the trail through the trees. I look down. 7:30 pace. Oops.
A straight path. Good. My shins hurt. I'll need new shoes soon. I find the small grass trail that leads to the steep hill and the neighborhood road home. This road is steep. I'm warm now. Sort of. I breathe my way up. Stick with it. I used to have to walk this. Not anymore. I smile at that memory. Not anymore at all.
Look left, look right, dart across, on the straight road home. I get a small cramp. WTF? My right arm is tense. Dammit. I shake it out. The cramp stays near my side. A stich. Sigh. Something to add to the doubts. Did last week's flu kick my ass that much?
My body's tired. I'm nearing four miles. That's OK. I ran 12 Sunday. I will rest after Wednesday.
I head for the final downhill and back home. I cross the fire hydrant. The finish line. I'm done.
The sun is peeking through the morning clouds and just over the horizon. It's morning. My breath hangs in the air again. I take my hat off. Steam rushes out. My skin tingles with the cold.
I feel good.
The Denver Half Marathon is this Sunday. I smile. Screw the doubts. I'm ready.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time after time

Last month I remember throwing back the covers with force as Kate woke me up for yet another late-night feeding. I stared at the clock. It was 3:45 a.m.
I thought of the Little River Band. "How Long Has This Been Going On?" I asked myself. And when will it ever end?
I was completely burnt out on getting up in the middle of the night for more than a year while other parents bragged about how their babies were sleeping through the night after the third day. It seemed to never end, and there also didn't seem to be an end in sight. I would forever be stuck yawing at 3:30 p.m., looking at my running friends with jealousy while they ran ahead during out evening workouts, their bodies fresh from rest. I seemed destined to gaze at full moons the rest of my life.
I blinked my eyes, and when I opened them, two toddlers were smiling back at me, along with their brother, who now looks like he belongs in preschool.
The girls, at 15 months, in an instant, are walking now. They have hairdos and clothes worn by little girls, not babies. And they have personalities to match their button-doll cuteness. Andie, for instance, brings over an animal puzzle as soon as I get home from work. After her bath she grabs her favorite book, "Duck on Holiday," and grunts at me until I read it. When she's outside, she stands by the swingset and hollers at us until we swing her. She demands we put on her shoes as soon as she gets up, to the point where she bonked me on the head several times with them when I lay on the carpet face down, still waking up from the 6 a.m. call.
Allie says several words, including "doggie," "nose" and "Daddy" (I think she says this last one, but this might the fact that every parent wants to think their names are their babies' first words, even when they rarely are).
Jayden not only talks in complete sentences now, like a person, he can run almost as fast as me (I am not Usain Bolt, but still), he appreciates trips to the zoo (demands them, actually) and remembers on Friday that I said, three days ago, that we might go to the bounce place during our special day together. He is working on hitting a whiffle ball and can, occasionally, crack a single. He's also temperamental, stubborn and, at times, impossible, but you have to take the good with the bad.
All of this happened in the blink of eye.
Yet every day it seems like the evening never gets here. The days are long, so long at times that my energy seems to dribble through the cracks of my desk and soak into the carpet, and yet I look at the clock at it's only 3 p.m. When I get home from work, I chase down the kids, give them their baths, dress them, give them a story and put them to bed, and it seems to take forever, like a marathon that I never stop running.
When we go to bed, things are better, but I still wake up occasionally to the cries of Andie or Allie, and the milk just seeps through the bottle, like sands through an hourglass, as I yawn my way to 3:45 a.m.
I am moving through bullet time, as fast as the projectiles and as slow as the magic that makes them crawl through the air.
When did Jayden become a little boy? When did the girls, my babies, become toddlers? When did my hair become a little grayer? In the spaces during the daily grind. It's always a good reminder to enjoy the daily grind, even if it grinds too slowly at times, because you won't slow down those spaces. In fact, as you get older, they seem to speed up.
Life has two tempos, fast and slow, and a pace all its own. All you can do is follow the drumbeat and try to keep up.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Some observations about .50/$1 NL

Now that I've played a bit (about a month) at $100 NL, I've noticed a few observations. These can't really be backed up by a fair amount of hands to make any serious judgments, but these are some trends i've noticed. I'm also grappling with a decision.

1. The players aren't much better at this level, and there are actually some worse players at PokerStars than at the $50 NL level on Bodog.
But they are better. They will bluff you more, act more aggressively and will challenge you. It's tougher to play out of position and they won't let you check your top pair on the river. This is fine, as I'm willing to make some tough calls, and way more often than not, I'm right, but I've probably folded more times than I should, too.
2. As a result, I am really hesitant to play out of position. I'm trying to take position back even when I'm out of position by checking my hand at times and betting out at other times. But it's still difficult for me. There's nothing wrong with playing a lot fewer hands out of position however.
3. The players bluff more, but many times their bluffs make no sense. They will bluff when it's obvious they are betting on the come and fire a big bet on the river when that draw doesn't fill. I've picked off many bluffs simply by calling with top pair weak kicker or even less on an obvious draw board when the board doesn't really make much sense for a big bet, unless they have a set, and I've tried to approach my game not being afraid of sets any longer. They don't have a set every time.
4. Three-betting is more common. But I like that because it defines my opponent's hand a lot more. I've noticed a lot of all-ins, too, with A-K (which is stupid in my mind, these are cash games, not tournaments) and 10s and up. I still refuse to commit all-in pre-flop with anything but A-A and maybe K-K. That's saved me a lot of money through the years.
5. I've noticed a few leaks in my game:
• I still call too much instead of raising. I do this because I want to control the pot sizes when I only have a pair, but I should raise on the flop because that might slow down my opponent, and if it does not, I can either be done with the hand if my hand does not improve or proceed with caution.
• I don't observe my opponents as much as I should. I three-table, so clear observation for every opponent is impossible, but I should pay more attention to the regulars.
• I still don't speculate enough. That's probably worse now that the limits are higher. I'm used to the higher bets now, but it still makes me a little nervous. I especially need to open my range up when I'm in position and call obvious c-bets to take away pots on the turn.
• I do not c-bet enough myself. Unless my A-high hand hits, I rarely c-bet, as they don't seem to work much anymore, especially when I'm out of position. I need to be more aggressive about that, as too many pots are taken away from me. I'll always remain cautious but I need to recognize that there are good times to c-bet.


Now my decision. I've always enjoyed opening new accounts at poker rooms and building rolls over there. Now that I'm basically done with Bodog, I am considering opening an account with Cake Poker through Rakebrain.com.
The site offers great promotions, including freerolls and rakeback races where it offers cash on top of your rake.
I've never had rakeback before and it would be nice to open an account with one.

But here's the thing. I am enjoying tackling the higher limits and I'm enjoying playing on Pokerstars because I love its Mac client. And I also don't know how many players there are at Cake and whether it's easy to get a good game going. I am sorely tempted to try it but that would probably take away my time from improving at the $100 NL tables, as I can't be rolled for that limit at Cake.

What do you think?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fantasy Football - The worst bad beat ever

It's tied with 10 seconds to go, and a tiebreaker goes to the bench, where I have my opponent crushed, 98-13. If you were a jerk, you would point out that this means he really outplayed me, as I left a ton of points on the bench whereas he got all his worth from his shitty players.
But you're not a jerk, right?
Anyway, Drew Brees throws up a hail mary, and three Vikings players stumble over the ball but manage to collect it just before it hits the ground. They review the play, and the Vikings do in fact intercept the ball.
That interception means a point is taken away from Drew Brees.
And I lose by one.


At least this was in my league, where we get money at the end of the year, and not Fantasy Sports Live, where I would have collected cash on the spot for a win. There's been no danger of that this year so far. I'd take fifth place in a contest I've been running so bad over there.


P.S. I think fantasy football bad beat stories are free, so no $1 for you. At the very least, they are half price.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Moving up to $100 NL

I have finally decided to move up to $.50/$1 NL.
This may not seem like a milestone for many of you. I realize you probably made this move back in, say, 2004.
Let's just say that stepping outside my comfort zone is difficult for me. Which may strike you as funny, given that I like to do little dances on top of summits (not unlike that guy on YouTube who dances around the world, the Where the Hell is Matt guy; I suppose I should link that but it's been a really, really rough day because now it appears the girls may have caught our flu bug (Jesus, can we catch a fuckin' break here; and remember the days when you got the flu, you puked, you lay in bed a day or so, then it was over and out of your house? Yeah, those days are gone).
Wow, that was a long sentence.
So I finally decided to challenge myself and quit feasting on the soft underbelly of the poker world, quit being a parasite and all that, and so far the change is a good one for me. I do think this level is beatable for me. If it weren't for a few really retarded beats (one outers are SO lovely), I'm up a few hundy, but as it stands, it's going well.
I'll keep reporting back to you on this occasionally, as it will finally give me some poker content for this so-called "poker blog." In theory, anyway.

P.S. There is an initiative floating around the state for the November election that will increase all maximum casino bets to $100. In other words, no more lame $5 limit poker if it passes. Pleasepleaseplease pass this voters.

P.S.S. For tips and my thoughts on moving up a level, see this Pokerworks story I wrote.

P.S.S.S. Also, the AnteUp Poker Podcast used my hotline call for this week about asking whether some poker sites are easier than others. I was asking about Bodog versus PokerStars. I am playing $100 NL on Pokerstars and was enjoying Bodog before all the rumors started about the site's collapse. What do you think about this? Are there easier sites?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ugh

One of the joyful, great, wonderful things about children is when they get sick, and you know exactly what's coming. Jayden began puking early Monday morning and didn't stop until that night.
Sure enough, Tuesday I began feeling achy, and by that night, my stomach felt like a trash can. When the bathroom started spinning around 2 a.m., the words from Motley Crue's brilliant new album were going through my ears (I'd rather be dead, I'd rather be face down in the dirt with a bullet in my head), and shortly after, I puked.
Another time at 3:30 a.m., then a day taking it easy, until Kate came home at 2:30 p.m. with the same thing. Awesome.
Man, raising young children when you're not feeling great really sucks. At least I'm feeling better and should be OK by tomorrow. But I'm skipping the Mookie. I wish I could be there. But my stomach doesn't.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The philosophy of life, according to hair metal

1. You should be up all night and sleep all day.
2. Rock and roll is not really noise pollution.
3. I don't know where I'm going. But I sure know where I've been.
4. Rock and roll all night, and party every day.
5. With love we'll find a way just give it time.
6. You don't need nothing but a good time.
7. It's OK to have love in an elevator.
8. You really can be too young to fall in love.
9. We are the youth gone wild (well, I was when this song came out, I'm not so wild now, though I did buy a six pack of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat).
10. We're not going to take it anymore.
11. Everything starts to spin loaded on gin.
12. Life is just a fantasy, but can you live the fantasy life? (I love it when bands get deep)
13. You take your road, I'll take mine. The paths have both been beaten.
14. It's not what you got, it's what you give.
15. Rock. Rock. Until you drop.
16. You don't know what you got until it's gone.
17. Wherever I may roam, where I lay my head is home.
18. Stop wasting time always searching for your wasted years.

Can you name the bands putting forth these nuggets of wisdom?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pain is a privilege

My competitive juices were flowing Saturday as I watched my friends from my running group go through the motions before the 5K I was about to run.
The hard warm up, the light stretching, the jumping around, the last-second adjustments to their shoelaces, the nervous pacing, the quiet moments alone, all of it designed to make them run faster, to push our body beyond what the mind tells us is possible and block out the evil thoughts of slowing down or even walking.
I'd been through it several times this year, and though part of me was glad I wasn't going to join them and run really hard today, part of me was jealous.
But running fast and hard today would make no sense. I was going to push Jayden in a stroller, and he's approaching 40 pounds. I was there so Kate could be there, as she was walking the course with the twins and a pregnant friend. And I was going to do a long run of at least nine more miles after the race.
Finally, this race was for one of Kate's students. She came down with brain cancer more than a year ago. I did two stories on her. Everyone thought she was gone in March, but then she groped through that dark period and seems to be getting better every day. She still slurs her words, but she's all there and is slowly regaining the use of her limbs. Next year, they even think she might be able to walk the race herself. I know that's what she wants. She just wants to walk again and be a normal high school student.
As I started my long run on my own, I knew I'd be in some pain by the end. Long runs are designed to be tough, and I wound up going 14 for the day, including the race. And the race? I finished in 26 minutes, which is not a time I'll record in my logs, but it wasn't bad with a stroller. I had a good time.
The point, in this race, wasn't to run hard.
The point is that I can.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pokerpeaker part II?

Me: "What do you want to do today?"
Jayden: "Umm...."
Me: "Do you want to go to the park?"
Jayden: "No. Can we go climb a mountain?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In a (St.)ate of Happiness over the new Metallica

Before I begin, let me tell you I'm probably the most biased person offering up a review of the new Metallica album.
Namely, I love the band. My favorite for, like, forever. You want proof? I loved "St. Anger," even though, in many respects, the album sucked. I loved it, however. I'm like those U2 fans who said "Pop" was a terrific album.
But those same U2 fans had 783 orgasms all wrapped up into one when they heard "Beautiful Day" for the first time and realized that their favorite band was back.
That was my reaction when I heard "That Was Just Your Life," Metallica's opener to their brilliant new "Death Magnetic."
Yes, I thought. Yes Yes YES!
The reason I loved "St. Anger" was the band's return to speed metal. I didn't really care that the songs had no solos or that many times they were unfocused or that the production was, at best, horrible, especially a snare that sounded like an old coffee can.
I was so desperate for Metallica to return to its roots, to be BACK, for God's sake, that I was willing to settle. Metallica tried my patience for more than a decade. Again, I was a loyal fan, so after the great Black album, a necessary departure that was still one of the heaviest albums put out in 1991, I loved "Load" and even liked "Reload." But those were not what I really wanted.
I don't have to settle any longer.
The album is all i've listened to since I bought it last Saturday. At work, at home, in the car. I can't get tired of it. The songs are all around eight minutes long, and yet they're focused, thrashy and stuffed full of incredible riffs. It's fast and furious and yet catchy.
Plus the album SOUNDS great. Thank you Rick Rubin. And Kirk Hammett is back with some of the best work he's done. I'm not sure if he's still taking lessons from Joe Satriani but it sure sounds like it. He's one of the few rock guitarists who really does have his own style and sound.
It's fitting to me that Metallica was just nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
They're back, baby, this time, I hope, for good.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Keep track of twins and a toddler (live blog)

Kate is gone all day Saturday at her sister's baby shower and will be going out with her friends tonight, so I'm wall-to-wall Mr. Mom today. I thought it would be fun to live blog the day. Or it's the only thing that will help me keep my sanity.
6:45 a.m. - I go into the girls' room, where Kate is already lifting the girls out of their cribs.
7:05 a.m. - Time to get them dressed, bring them downstairs and get them breakfast.
7:35 a.m. - I go up to take a shower and get my game face on. Nothing helps prepare for a day with a toddler and 16-month-old twins like some time on the potty and a shower.
7:50 a.m. - Kate: "I need to gooooo." She told me 8 a.m. last night. Kate likes to do this, telling me that she wants to leave at this time and then pushing that time up at the last second. Sorry, I'm using every last bit of my 8 a.m. deadline. I hop in the shower.
8:01 a.m. - Kate leaves. Andie takes off her shorts, Allie poops and they both start to fight over a battery-powered toy mixer. We're not off to a good start.
8:10 a.m. - I change Allie and Jayden starts begging for "Peep and the Big Wide World." He's totally addicted to this show. He has Dad's OCD personality.
8:20 a.m. - Andie grabs the TV controller and runs off with it. This messes up Jayden's Peep program. He screams.
8:23 a.m. - I grab the controller back from Andie. She throws a fit.
8:30 a.m. - Andie falls off the couch. She's OK after a crying fit.
8:32 a.m. - Andie crawls back up on the couch. I start tickling her and playing with her. Allie craws up a minute later and now I have to corral both. This is one of the things about twins. Individual moments are black-diamond rare. The second twin has turned the nice moment into an almost impossible situation of trying to corral them both on the couch, and now I have to get both off, with predictably bitchy results.
8:36 a.m. - Allie sees Jayden's sandals and holds them up. She wants them off her feet. I try three times to convince her they are too big. She disagrees with every once of her 22 pounds. I finally relent and put them on. She starts tripping all over the place. Andie sees this and grabs Jayden's tennis shoes and wants those on her feet. Allie trips again.I take them off their feet and put the shoes up. They both start bawling.
8:37 a.m. - Nap time.
8:40 a.m. - I get them into their cribs. They go down without incident. Glory, glory hallelujah!
9 a.m. - After an episode, Jayden sees an understandable opportunity to grab as much time as he can from Daddy and demands juice, his Crocs, outside time, a swing and hitting the ball, all in 30 seconds. The dog, Denali, is in my face every time I sit down. He wants attention too.
9:15 a.m. - Out in the yard, Denali grabs a toy and wants to play tug of war. jayden wants to swing.
10:35 a.m. - I put in a load of laundry. Jayden and I play on the bed downstairs. I smother him with a pillow and says, "Stop, you're squishing me," then wants it again.
10:45 a.m. - Alas, it's time to get the girls up. We do. I change Andie.
10:55 a.m. - I hold Andie's hand while Allie tries to go down the stairs. I bring Andie down by her hand, and Allie stops halfway in the middle. I grab her hand and lead her down. By the time I do this, Andie's halfway up the stairs again. This is why stuff with twins takes three times as long.
11:02 a.m. Three out of the four Crocs owned by the twins are located. This is a greater accomplishment than it sounds.
11:03 a.m. - Andie sees the Crocs and demands I put them on.
11:05 am. - Andie takes off her shorts again.
11:07 a.m. - I begin to fix lunch. I put on Andie's shorts. She takes them off again and has taken off her shoes. She demands I put them on again. Allie wants her shoes on now.
11:08 a.m. - I change Allie and discover a poop. I get up to find the wipes and Allie's already ran off to the next room. Sigh. I chase her down, clean her up and put her shorts back on. I help Jayden go pee-pee in the potty and put his shorts back on. and his Crocs as well.
11:10 a.m. When I come back from the bathroom, Allie has taken her shoes off. I can't find one. I search for five minutes.
11:15 a.m. Croc found under the couch. How did it get there?
11:20 a.m. - Andie wants to be held.
11:25 a.m. - I fix lunch. Cheese hot dogs, cottage cheese, canteloupe.
Noon - Lunch is over. It's time to clean up and prepare to go to the park. Whew.
12:05p.m. - I change Andie.
12:06 p.m. - She takes off her shorts again. I'm done with the fucking shorts. I go upstairs to grab a new pair. I rifle through clothes under I find a tight pair she wont' be able to take off.
12:20 p.m. - The kids seem good for a second playing with the plastic kitchen, so I go downstairs to put another load of laundry in.
12:23 p.m. - Load up the kids and take them to the park.
1:30 p.m. - The park goes fine at first but ends tough, when Jayden refuses to listen to my order of staying on the top rocks of the pond, and then runs away when I come down to collect him while the girls are up there, alone. This pisses me off and he gets time for five minutes. He screams the entire time.
The girls then keep heading for the street. Jayden keeps climbing on the monkey bars and then yelling for help.
It's time to go home.
1:40 p.m. - Girls are brought out, Crocs off, Jayden needs juice, and I put them down for their nap. The church bells ring again, and Peep gets turned on for quiet time. Kate phones and says she is on her way and should be home at 3 p.m. It can't be soon enough.
3 p.m. - Kate gets home. Church bells again. I need to go to Wal-Mart to refill my prescription for acid reflux, which has been acting up lately. I cant' understand why.
3:30 p.m. - I decide to take Jayden to the pet store. He's been asking all week to see the fish.
3:45 p.m. - We go see the fish. Some are labeled "aggressive." I wonder if they play A-10 out of position hard?
Sorry, bad joke.
4:15 p.m. - After an extensive tour of the store, where we see the fish, a scorpion (singing "Rock Me Like A Hurricane") and ferrets, it's time to go. We just make it to the car, and I've yet to go to Wal-Mart, when jayden decides he wanted to see the birds, too. I say no, we have to go, and Jayden rewards me for an extra trip to a pet store after a long hard day by throwing an intense and really annoying temper tantrum. I turn up the new Metallica CD to drown out the cries. I dump him off at home and head to Wal-Mart. I'm not putting up with that.
4:50 p.m. - I come home. Jayden is really upset I did not take him. I talk to him and explain that his tantrum meant he couldn't go. He said he was sorry. We'll see.
5:15 p.m. - I gobble down my lame frozen dinner I picked up at Wal-Mart. I got a list of groceries that Kate had me get after needing "nothing." I get everything but my prescription, which I forgot. Sigh.
6:10 p.m. - I get the bottles together. Kate leaves for her dinner date. Allie and Andie are through playing dress-up and the cranky levels have reached nuclear fission, so it's time for bed. I read Allie a story after bedtime. Andie tries to barge in the whole time.
There's never a peaceful, alone moment with a kid when you've got twins. Sigh.
6:25 p.m. - Andie goes down. Allie goes down. Jayden demands juice. Jayden wants outside. We sit outside together as the storm starts to brew.
I hope it's not a prelude to the evening. Tonight I need peace.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One night in Susanville, Calif. with poker in the back

My expectations weren't exactly high.
Grandpa got weary in the evenings (when 92 you are, see how much energy you have), so we went back to our hotel rooms in Susanville, Calif., during last week's visit and hung out.
This was near Reno, Nev., and I had the itch to play poker. I rarely get to play live poker anymore, especially the kind in a casino, and if my evenings were going to be free, i.e. without twins or a toddler, I really hoped to take advantage of that.
So when Mom sent me a link to the new Diamond Mountain Casino, I remember being excited. In fact, other than getting to see Grandpa for the first time in 15 years at least, the chance to play live poker was what I looked forward to the most.
Alas, when my brother and I drove out to check it out on our first free night, last Thursday, we walked in to a small, dingy, smoky three-room casino that generously looked like it belonged way off the strip near Vegas.
I doubt the place would survive even in downtown Vegas. It ranked above the downtown place with women sporting C-section scars passing out beads or the place that offers $1 frozen drinks and carpets that smell like cat piss. Barely.
"This place is a dump," my brother said, and he was pretty much right. But I searched for the card room anyway.
I was crestfallen when the security officer pointed me to a table game called "Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em." THIS is your Texas Hold 'Em game that you bragged about on your Web site? If you could see a picture of dashed hopes, mine would look like an egg, with the yolk running off the sidewalk.
As I sulked out, I caught a flyer. "Texas Hold 'Em," it said. Tournaments Saturday and Live Games Sunday.
I didn't see anything about
poker tips
, but otherwise it looked good.
Hmmm. So there was hope. I decided I would check it out if I had nothing better to do.
Sunday rolled around and the itch was back. When we got back to our hotel room at 7:15 p.m., I told Mom and Brian I would check it out.
"It'll probably suck," I told them, already cloaking my hopes.

When I got there, I was excited to see some double doors opening to a meeting room. I peeked inside and saw a cheap poker table with 10 middle-aged guys probably struggling with their mid-life crises. It was one table, though, and the waiting list was four deep. Dammit.
"You can help a new dealer while you're waiting," all 10 guys said at once as they looked me over.
This was obviously a regular game, and they were wondering why the hell this 36-year-old guy was walking in on it.
But I did wander over to the other table to help a dealer who was having an incredible time grasping the limits of 3/6.
"It's, um.....3 to call?" she said on the turn numerous times.
No, we corrected her. It's 6 to call.
Then some guy sat down at the table who had never played before. So a conversation like this one quickly took place:
"I'll bet $12"
"OK, um....wait...it's $3 to call."
"Oh. Well, I want to raise."
"Um...it's $3 to call."
"I know, but maybe I want to raise."
"You can't raise. You haven't called yet. I think."
"OK, I call $6. And I raise."
"OK. No, wait, you can't do that. You have to just call if you just say call. And it's $3 to call."
"OK, then, I'll call and raise."
"No, you can't do that either."
"I thought I could raise."
"Wait...you're right, but I think you did it wrong."
After an hour of this, I looked at the floor manager and asked her how long my wait was. She said she would open up a table if five showed up. Thankfully, two younger guys who worked for the Forest Service walked in. The government, mostly jobs like those, was the biggest employer in Susanville.
Five-handed limit poker sucks, basically. Most of the pots were small, and there just wasn't much action. I was about to go home when two ladies sat at the table as well as a Native American named George, and suddenly, we had a lot more action than even the "big kids" table.
My first big hand came with A-K. I raise, got two callers from the loosest players at the table, i.e. complete donks. Truth be told, most of the players were not good at all. It was pretty typical limit poker.
I scooped a huge pot when the K-high flop held up for me and I was on my way.
Of course I took tough beats. I flopped two pair three times and lost all three times, two times to flopped straights. Thankfully I didn't lose a whole lot on all three of them, but later it cost me a nice pot when I folded two pair, thinking I was so smart, and it would have won. That was the worst hand I played all night and really my only big mistake.
When I finally did move to the "big" table, I had a few good hands, including a flopped full house with 4-3 (it was sooted!), a flopped set of threes that turned into a full house on the river and tripped up another guy (trips, of course, are golden, so the pot was capped on the river) and a flopped straight with 7-8.
I also won a 6-12 kill pot with K-10 on a 10-high flop. I called the hand before the flop and bet on the flop and the turn and river. I was never raised once by the woman to my left. Another 10 came on the river, and when I bet, she said, "You'd better have trip 10s." Well, I did. What did she think I had?
She flipped over K-K.
"God dammit. That's not very nice," she said. "I always get screwed on the river."
This is what I call the Ballad of the Mediocre Limit Poker Player. They always feel sorry for themselves.
Sure, I sucked out, but she never did anything to prevent it, either. Remember, this was a kill pot, so she actually had a little ammo to work with. Had she raised me pre-flop or on the turn, I might have considered folding because she was a tight player and the board did look a little dangerous, even if it did stay 10-high.
But she just called, and here came the banjo on the river when the chips were pushed my way.
We all love playing with players who believe that it's the cards, and not their actions, that determine when the chips come their way. It's what we like to call the mashed potatoes of the chicken fried dinner. At least I like to call it that.
But their complaining and bitching and whining does get old. I suppose it's a small price to pay. LIke having to listen to Slaughter before Ozzy hits the stage.
It was 1:30 a.m., and my ears and eyes had had enough. It was time to go home. I was leaving money on the table by leaving, but then again, in a 3-6 game with dozens of callers on every hand, maybe I was saving money by leaving too.
I left with $105. Not bad for a few hours of low-limit poker.
But the best part was the fact that poker really is everywhere these days. It was a fun, friendly game, even if it was in a little dinky casino, and even if it was in Susanville, Calif.
I enjoyed playing with them and playing the game.
Almost as much as taking their money.